pantothenic acid

What Is It?
Health Benefits
Recommended Intake
If You Get Too Little
If You Get Too Much
General Dosage Information
Guidelines for Use
General Interaction
Possible Side effects
Evidence Based Rating Scale

What Is It?

Also known as vitamin B5, pantothenic acid is essential for a number of basic bodily functions--from growth to reproduction. It participates in the continual breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins from food, converting them into compounds the body can use. This vitamin also produces numerous enzymes and helps maintain precise communication between the central nervous system and the brain.

A deficiency of pantothenic acid is quite rare in humans because a large number of foods contain this vitamin (in fact, the name is derived from the Greek pantos, meaning "everywhere." Even so, a supplement may be needed to get the higher doses of pantothenic acid recommended for the treatment of specific ailments.

Health Benefits

Pantothenic acid comes in two forms: calcium pantothenate and pantethine. The former is widely used for treating ailments from stress to heartburn, while pantethine is mainly recommended for lowering blood cholesterol levels in those who don't respond to other natural treatments. Many multivitamin and vitamin B complex supplements contain pantothenic acid.

Specifically, pantothenic acid may help to:

  • Manage stress related to migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, smoking and alcohol cessation, and emotional issues. The body relies on pantothenic acid to help the adrenal glands produce hormones to respond to both psychological and physical stress. Sometimes referred to as the “anti-stress” vitamin, pantothenic acid is believed to enhance the activity of the immune system and improve the body’s ability to withstand stressful conditions. In addition, pantothenic acid may reduce the occurrence of migraines by participating in the production of the brain chemical Serotonin; some research indicates that serotonin is present at abnormally low levels in migraine sufferers. The anti-stress property makes it potentially useful for dealing with emotional upset, depression, anxiety, migraines, chronic fatigue, and withdrawal from alcohol or tobacco. It is commonly taken as part of a vitamin B complex supplement for these purposes. A 1999 review of preliminary animal and human studies indicated pantothenic acid may help to maintain an adaptive response to stress and to minimize some of its systemic effects. (1) However, further research in this area is lacking. In a more general study in 2002, a vitamin and mineral formula called the Myers’ Cocktail, which includes B vitamins (such as pantothenic acid), calcium and magnesium and vitamin C was shown to be effective against conditions such as migraines, fatigue (including chronic fatigue syndrome), and fibromyalgia. The exact contribution of pantothenic acid, individually, was not examined during this study, however. (2) Pantothenic acid has been approved by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists for its use in improving adrenal function in patients who suffer from chronic stress and who have a deficiency in vitamin B5 making it potentially useful for dealing with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. (16)

  • Control cholesterol levels. The body converts pantothenic acid into a chemical called pantethine. When taken as a supplement, pantethine appears to lower the amount of lipids in the blood. A person with high cholesterol may see their level of total of cholesterol decrease – including lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol and triglycerides while at the same time increasing HDL ("good") cholesterol levels – when taking pantethine supplements. Evidence supporting this belief stems from several small studies in the 1980s, which found pantothenic acid supplementation may modestly lower triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol while simultaneously raising HDL cholesterol. (3-8) And in one of the studies, a 1986 trial of 24 patients with high cholesterol alone or associated with diabetes, found the cholesterol-lowering effect of pantothenic acid was maintained with continued treatment for up to a year. (9) A 2006 review of dietary and supplemental options for managing high triglyceride levels found pantethine to be a viable option in substantially and consistently reducing high triglyceride levels. (10)

    Results have been conflicting, however. Two studies in the 1980s found pantethine supplementation to have no effect on cholesterol. (11, 12) And a 1989 controlled study of patients with high cholesterol found pantethine to be less effective in lowering lipids and triglycerides than the conventional medication gemfibrozil (Lopid). (13)

  • Reduce symptoms of arthritis. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis have been shown to have low levels of pantothenic acid. (14) While supplementation with calcium pantothenate to raise levels to normal might theoretically alleviate some symptoms, preliminary evidence is not convincing. In a 1980 double-blind study, patients with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or other forms of arthritis taking 2 g of calcium pantothenate daily reported subjective improvement in symptoms of disease such as duration of morning stiffness, degree of disability and severity of pain, but the improvements were not statistically significant. (15) More research is needed for the efficacy of calcium pantothenate in relieving symptoms of arthritis.

  • Reduce certain allergy symptoms and asthmatic reactions. Allergy sufferers anecdotally find pantothenic acid beneficial for controlling the nasal congestion that can develop during an allergic reaction. The vitamin is a smart choice during allergy season, when it can be safely taken along with more conventional remedies. An asthmatic response initiated by seasonal allergies may similarly improve with pantothenic acid. While scientific evidence is lacking in this area, a potential explanation may lie in its connection to royal jelly. This product of worker bees contains high concentrations of pantothenic acid, and anecdotal evidence has found some efficacy of this and other bee products to prevent allergic and asthmatic responses. For more information about royal jelly, see the WholeHealthMD library entry on bee products.


  • tablet
  • softgel
  • liquid
  • capsule

Recommended Intake

Experts recommend getting 4 to 7 mg a day to maintain normal body function. The amount present in a multivitamin or vitamin B-complex supplement is more than adequate in most cases.

If You Get Too Little

A deficiency of pantothenic acid in adults is virtually nonexistent, largely because it is present in so many foods.

If You Get Too Much

Doses of 10 grams (10,000 mg) or more a day can result in diarrhea. No other adverse reactions to high doses have been reported.

General Dosage Information

Special tip: Many multivitamin and B-complex vitamin products contain pantothenic acid; check the label for the dose.

  • For psychological or physical stress: Take a daily vitamin B complex supplement that includes 100 mg of pantothenic acid. Many so-called adrenal support combinations designed to help the body cope with stress contain approximately this amount of pantothenic acid.

  • For high cholesterol: Take 300 mg of pantethine three times a day.

  • For arthritis: 2 g of calcium pantothenate daily has been used.

Be sure to check out our Dosage Recommendations Chart for Pantothenic Acid, which lists therapeutic dosages for specific ailments at a glance.

Guidelines for Use

  • Take pantothenic acid with meals.

  • General Interaction

    There are no known drug or nutrient interactions associated with pantothenic acid.

    Possible Side Effects

    There are no known side effects associated with pantothenic acid in usual amounts.


  • Read supplement labels carefully to avoid mistakenly purchasing a pantethine product, which is almost solely used for treating high cholesterol. It's not interchangeable with pantothenic acid products.
  • References

    1. Kelly GS. Nutritional and botanical interventions to assist with the adaptation to stress. Altern Med Rev. 1999 Aug;4(4):249-65.
    2. Gaby, AR. Intravenous nutrient therapy: the “Myers’ cocktail.” Altern Med Rev. 2002 Oct;7(5):389-403.
    3. Maggi GC, Donati C, Criscuoli G. Pantethine: a physiological lipomodulating agent in the treatment of hyperlipidemias. Curr Ther Res. 1982;32:380-6.
    4. Angelica M, Pinto G, Ciaccheri C, et al. Improvement in serum lipid profile in hyperlipoproteinemia patients after treatment with pantethine: a cross-over double-blind trial versus placebo. Curr Ther Res. 1983;33:1091-7.
    5. Gaddi A, Descovich GC, Noseda G, et al. Controlled evaluation of pantethine, a natural hypolipidemic compound, in patients with different forms of hyperlipoproteinemia. Atherosclerosis. 1984;50:73-83.
    6. Murai A, Miyahara T, Tanaka T, et al. The effects of pantethine on lipid and lipoprotein abnormalities in survivors of cerebral infarction. Artery. 1985;12:234-43.
    7. Prisco D, Rogasi PG, Matucci M, et al. Effect of oral treatment with pantethine on platelet and plasma phospholipids in IIa hyperlipoproteinemia Angiology. 1987;38:241-7.
    8. Agrati AM, Ambrosi G, Ferraro G, Palmieri. Gemfibrozil efficacy vs. pantethine in dyslipoproteinemic patients: a controlled study. Curr Ther Res. 1989;45:650-63.
    9. Arsenio L, Bodria P, Magnati G, et al. Effectiveness of long-term treatment with pantethine in patients with dyslipidemia. Clin Ther. 1986;8:537-45.
    10. Pins JJ, Keenan JM. Dietary and nutraceutical options for managing the hypertriglyceridemic patient. Prog Cardiovasc Nurs. 2006 Spring;21(2):89-93.
    11. Da Col PG, Cattin L, Fonda M, et al. Pantethine in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia: a randomized double-blind trial versus tiadenol. Curr Ther Res. 1984;36:314-22.
    12. Rubba P, Postaiglione B, De Simone F, et al. Comparative evaluation of the lipid-lowering effects of fenofibrate and pantethine in type II hyperlipoproteinemia. Curr Ther Res. 1985;38:719-27.
    13. Agrati AM, Ambrosi G, Ferraro G, Palmieri. Gemfibrozil efficacy vs pantethine in dyslipoproteinemic patients: a controlled study. Curr Ther Res. 1989;45:650-63.
    14. Barton-Wright EC, Elliott WA. The pantothenic acid metabolism of rheumatoid arthritis. Lancet. 1963;ii:862-3.
    15. General Practitioner Research Group. Calcium pantothenate in arthritic conditions. Practitioner. 1980;224:208-11.
    16. McKevoy GK, ed. AHFS Drug Information. Bethesda, MD: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, 1998.

    Evidence Based Rating Scale  

    The Evidence Based Rating Scale is a tool that helps consumers translate the findings of medical research studies with what our clinical advisors have found to be efficacious in their personal practice. This tool is meant to simplify which supplements and therapies demonstrate promise in the treatment of certain conditions. This scale does not take into account any possible interactions with any medication/ condition/ or therapy which you may be currently undertaking. It is therefore advisable to ask your doctor before starting any new treatment regimen.

















    High cholesterol



















    Several small studies indicate efficacy of pantethine in lowering LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and overall cholesterol levels while also raising HDL cholesterol. However, research is conflicting. More research is needed to confirm or refute efficacy. (3-13)                 










    Date Published: 04/19/2005
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